The death of Cecil the lion, and any endangered animal is a tragedy and an injustice. The circumstances surrounding Cecil’s hunt, suffering, and subsequent death were purely out of a small man’s need to feel powerful. Any human being whose soul is sewn with any kind of decent thread will measure a man’s power by his ability to nurture and not his ability to destroy.
That being said, the alternative side of this issue must be explored with an open mind and an open heart. So today we are talking about the idea of legally hunting for conservation. An idea that is rooted in logic, seems highly counterintuitive, and is mostly mal-practiced.
Imagine there is an old and sick animal roaming around the wild waiting to die or be eaten by another animal. And now remember, modern society believes in the premise of euthanasia when it comes to our domestic animals to end the suffering and misery of the animal. If you combine these two ideas and add in some rich dude who has the desire to hunt an exotic animal, you get hunting for conservation. The idea that the money paid (anywhere from $50,000 to $350,000), would mostly go to conservation efforts of the species. This makes total sense when you think about it because if I’m in the business of these hunts I want the species to succeed to continue to see animals live to this elder stage to continue to make money. So we’ve got money going to conservation to stop illegal poaching and an animal in pain whose being put out of its misery in a humane and quick hunt. Those both sound like very positive things to me.
So here’s where this all goes wrong…
- Usually only 2-3% of the money goes to any kind of conservation efforts
- The hunts are not usually humane and quick (as in Cecil’s case)
- The animals killed are not old, sick, and/or dying
Now, another issue in the matter of these animals is the after-effect to their family groups. In the case of Cecil the lion, the aftermath of him being killed will mean death for his bloodline. The next lion that takes over will most certainly kill off all of Cecil’s cubs so that he can start his own bloodline with his new harem of females. This is a very common practice among lions. However, since Cecil was a lion that was heavily involved in research, all of the potential research on his offspring, as well as himself, is now a lost cause. These are all things that are not considered in sport hunting.
An idea rooted in logic and trying to help all sides gets continually corrupted and doesn’t work 80% of the time. This is an issue that is far more complex and convoluted than anyone realizes and there is never a completely right answer where all parties win. Hunter’s are not always bad people, I believe that hunting a species that is not endangered and using all parts of the animal is perfectly acceptable. But hopefully, with increasing awareness will come a societal consensus on how to deal with an issue like this.